CNMI LAWMAKERS SEEK AFFLUENT RETIREES

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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 26) – The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) House of Representatives has adopted a resolution urging Gov. Benigno R. Fitial to conduct a study on creating a "silver club" community on Saipan, targeting affluent Japanese retirees who may want to relocate to a warmer place.

The resolution states that the Japan External Trade Organization estimates about 6.9 million Japanese baby boomers, or those born between 1947 to 1949, will begin to reach retirement age this year.

JETRO further estimates that the Japanese retirees stand to be paid more than 15 trillion yen, or $130.8 billion, every year in severance pay and the island’s all-year sunny weather, pristine environment and close proximity to Japan could lead them to relocate, and help stimulate the Northern Marianas’ struggling tourism-based economy.

"The baby boom generation forms a fixed stratum of consumers, possessing personal financial assets totaling approximately 130 trillion yen, or 10 percent of the total personal assets of the population. The members of this generation have a high level of interest in hobbies, education and travel," the resolution stated.

"This 6.9 million strong segment of the Japanese population forms a market that has both time and money to travel, establishing a retirement community locale may entice this "silver club" to visit or stay in the commonwealth, paving the way for an increase in tourist arrivals and enhancing the potential for capital investments," they added.

Japan is the main market of the local tourism industry.

Arrivals from Japan have been in double-digit decline since Japan Airlines left the Saipan route in late 2005.

Lawmakers suggest that the government renovate and convert its dilapidated houses on Capital Hill for the use of its target Japanese silver market.

"The seclusion of these government buildings provides privacy and an excellent view," and offer a prime location. The structures are ideal for convertion into retirement homes for foreign nationals," the resolution states.

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